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Summary of the Independent review of the Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code

Below is an extract of the 18 recommendations taken from the Independant review of the Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code by Roberta Ryan and Neil Selmon. Over the coming weeks we will provide some further commentary on the report and recommendations and what it means to Polyhouse.

There are some clear, sensible and promising recommendations to ensure housing diversity. There are also some recommendations within the context of Complying Development that are not so clear; notably surrounding the issue of local character. The nature of the Code's broader Implementation by Council and the Department of Planning over the next 10 months will be key to the success of the Code.


The Intent of the Code

A clear policy framework will support the provision of the diverse range of housing needed in NSW.

  • 1. It is recommended that a coordinated policy approach be developed which considers the implementation of the Code with other housing-related State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs) including the SEPP (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009 that delivers affordable rental housing, boarding houses and secondary dwellings, and the SEPP (Housing for Seniors or People with a Disability) 2004.

  • 2. The Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code should be re-named the Two-Storey Housing Diversity Code.

  • 3. ‘Low rise medium density’ should be defined. The definition should be articulated in practice notes.

  • 4. The Department to continue its education program for councils and communities, emphasising the housing diversity aims of the Code, providing information to address misunderstandings about the Code that have been identified through this review.

  • 5. The Greater Sydney Commission to work closely with councils in developing housing diversity targets (beyond describing built form) within the overall dwelling number targets for each local government area.

Application of the Code in deferred Local Government Areas

  • 6. It is recommended that the application of the Code be further deferred until 1 July 2020. Areas identified as being of Special Local Character can be excluded from the Code.

  • 7. Agreed interim Special Local Character Areas be excluded from Code operation until 1 July 2020. (applicable if code is implemented on 1 November 2018)

  • 8. There should be no LGA wide permanent exclusions from the Code and councils will be prevented from nominating the whole of an LGA or the whole of the R2 Low Density Residential zone as a Special Local Character Area.

  • 9. Where the Code currently applies in an R2 Low Density Residential zone it should not be removed from application through a Planning Proposal to prohibit multi dwelling housing or dual occupancy from that zone.

  • 10. Planning Proposals should not increase the floor space ratio or minimum lot size requirements beyond the base level controls in the Code, on land to which it applies.

The implementation of the Code

  • 11. More detailed guidance to be provided on respecting and enhancing local character, through Planning Practice Notes and case studies that can support the intended outcomes of the Design Guide, with a particular focus on locating dwellings within a precinct and local character context, and on development in infill areas.

  • 12. The Standard Instrument LEP definition of multi dwelling housing should be amended to function as a ‘group term’, with multi dwelling housing (terrace houses) and manor house as subsets of that definition. Multi dwelling housing should remain a mandated ‘permitted with consent’ use in the Standard Instrument LEP R3 Medium Density Residential zone.

  • 13. The Code should not apply to any unsewered area in any local government area.

  • 14. Land within the Sydney Drinking Water Catchment that is sewered but has Sydney Catchment Authority licensing limitations on the number of Equivalent Tenements that may be discharged as treated water into the system, and where that system is close to capacity, should be excluded from application of the Code.

Code Complying Development

There is insufficient community trust in the certification process to manage the risk of potentially poor outcomes in more complex applications for which the Code can apply. Fully addressing these issues is beyond the scope of the review; however the following recommendations were provided to assist with managing this.

  • 15. Development for the purposes of multi dwelling housing (terraces) under the Code should be limited to a maximum of 4 dwellings in a single Complying Development Certificate in infill/greyfield areas.

  • 16. The Design Verification Statement should be deemed to be a “Compliance Certificate” for the purposes of Section 6.30 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

  • 17. The Department create a register of CDCs issued under the Code through publishing on the Department’s Planning Portal or other similar means.

Review of the Code

  • 18. Uptake of the Code, implemented in accordance with the recommendations of this report, is to be monitored and reviewed for a period of 21 months from 1 November 2019 until 30 June 2021.

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